Useful idiots, part 3

To sum up: What is happening in Ukraine is horrific and tragic, but I think we should all be on guard to the possibility that it is even worse. My worry is that this invasion looks very much like the result of a prearranged back-room deal.

All Xi Jinping needs to do now is make vague disapproving noises, while letting events unfold. Whatever the outcome, his country will come out ahead.

If the invasion succeeds, two things happen: (1) A 21st century precedent is established for a large autocratic country annexing, by military force, a smaller neighboring democracy. (2) Russia, being economically isolated, will have only one large customer left to purchase its reserves of natural gas.

If the invasion fails, Russia will still be economically isolated, and also very weakened. To remain economically viable, it will have little choice but to turn to the only big friend it will still have.

Either way, China wins. But if the invasion succeeds, then Taiwan is in a perilous position.

And that doesn’t just mean immense human tragedy. Because of Taiwan’s position as a global supplier of high-tech components, it will also cause enormous economic disruption throughout the West.

So for many reasons, let’s hope Putin fails. But in any case, my greatest fear is that he is, in the end, no more than someone else’s useful idiot.

2 thoughts on “Useful idiots, part 3”

  1. [Only semi-related]

    One of the more sickening aspects of the whole tragedy in Ukraine is how much it reminds me of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Yes, Saddam was a noxious thug, not nearly as charismatic as Zelenskyy. But he harbored no “WMD”s, and posed no threat to the US (and not much threat to anyplace else, having been routed out of Kuwait a decade earlier).

    Yet, we blasted the country to pieces. I wonder what would have happened if the US faced the same sanctions then the world is levying against Russia now? I recall huge protests to that war, both at home and abroad.

    By contrast, everybody cheered when we went into Afghanistan after 9/11. Don’t mess with NYC.

  2. Interesting possibility. Being an aging dictator, believing his own hype and surrounded by sycophants, Putin clearly did not get very good intelligence assessing possible outcomes. And when he did confer with China, they did not appear to do very much to dissuade him.

    I think the degree to which the world is uniting against this aggression is taking people everywhere by surprise. It has surprised me. I hope a similar unity of response occurs if China makes an aggressive move on Taiwan. Could this be the start of a new era, where wars of aggression are met with crippling sanctions? I wonder if the deluge of lies from Trump served as a sort of inoculation. Society continues to learn and evolve?

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